A documentary discovers 'The Lost Pyramid' of Giza. It turns out that 'Lost' is a relative term.





"The Lost Pyramid" is one of those rare documentaries with a revelation so stunning, it's made headlines before anyone has seen it. The film, debuting next week on the History Channel, follows a team of archeologists as they unearth Egypt's fourth Great Pyramid at Giza, which, as the title says, has been lost for years to the desert sands. Even more amazing, this new pyramid (built by the Fourth-dynasty Pharaoh Djedefre) is actually the highest one of all—27 feet higher than the Great Pyramid of Cheops. "I'm a pyramid man, and what I've seen now has made me change many things," says Zahi Hawass, the head of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities. "Every history book in every language is going to be rewritten."

The only problem is that statement—indeed, the entire documentary—is arguably as solid as the crumbling pyramid itself. Egyptologists have known about Djedefre's pyramid for years. It was discovered a century ago—or rediscovered, since tomb raiders and stonemasons had been picking it over for centuries. If it hasn't been explored until recent years, that's in part because the pyramid sits close to a military exclusion zone, probably the site of nearby surface-to-air missiles. For the record, the structure isn't really on the Giza plateau, which is five miles to the south, and while it may appear larger than Cheops, that's only because Djedefre's hill is so high—the Great Pyramid is more than twice as tall in absolute terms. Some Egyptologists say that the slope of Djedefre's walls—60 degrees, as opposed to the 52-degree slope of the major pyramids—mean that the star of "The Lost Pyramid" is really just a sun temple. "It has never been lost," says Vassil Dobrev of Cairo's French Institute of Archaeology, "and it is not even a pyramid."

How could this happen? Very easily. "The Lost Pyramid" is just the latest entry in the competition among documentary makers to find the latest new old thing, especially in Egyptology. ...

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